Too much for old Manny

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TIM DAHLBERG The As­so­ci­ated Press COM­MENT

BAT­TLE OF BRIS­BANE: Jeff Horn and Manny Pac­quiao trade blows dur­ing their Sun­corp Sta­dium show­down on Sun­day. MANNY Pac­quiao still has his name, if not his punch.

That should get him an­other fight or two, though not at the rate of pay to which he’s be­come ac­cus­tomed.

And it’s not enough to get him a sec­ond fight with Floyd May­weather Jr, a bout that wasn’t likely to hap­pen even be­fore his con­tro­ver­sial loss on Sun­day in Bris­bane to home­town hero Jeff Horn.

At the age of 38, Pac­quiao is pretty much done. His lat­est at­tempt at wip­ing away the stain left from his fight with May­weather ended with a fighter who wouldn’t have sur­vived five rounds with him in his prime cel­e­brat­ing in front of a crowd of 51,052 at a rugby sta­dium in Bris­bane.

Pac­quiao’s sup­port­ers will howl that the judg­ing was hor­ren­dous, and on at least one card ( 117- 111, Horn) it was.

But it was Pac­quiao who al­lowed the fight to be as close as it was, and it’s hard to ar­gue much ( though those blab­ber­ing on ESPN cer­tainly did) with the two judges who had it 115- 113 in Horn’s favour.

Be­sides, Pac­quiao knew go­ing in what was ex­pected of him.

He needed to dom­i­nate and he didn’t, out­side of a ninth round where he tried his best to take Horn out only to punch him­self out and leave the fi­nal rounds in Horn’s hands.

Af­ter 22 years as a pro, Pac­quiao should have known the old box­ing ax­iom: Go to some­one’s home­town, and some­times you get a home­town de­ci­sion.

For­get about the punch counts, which showed Pac­quiao land­ing twice the num­ber of punches that Horn did.

Those punches are counted by hu­mans and with the awk­ward style of both fighters, it was dif­fi­cult with­out the ben­e­fit of slow- mo­tion re­plays to see just who landed what as the two flur­ried fu­ri­ously at times in the ring.

The real prob­lem was that Pac­quiao couldn’t fin­ish Horn in the ninth round, some­thing that isn’t new for the Filipino great, who hasn’t stopped any­one in eight years.

He also couldn’t win the 12th round on any score­card, when a strong fi­nal round would have sal­vaged a draw in the welterweight ti­tle bout. The top fighters do that. re­spect that,” Pac­quiao said af­ter­wards.

“We have a re­match clause, so no prob­lem.”

Those scream­ing on ESPN and in so­cial me­dia af­ter­wards should have been as calm.

Be­tween ring­side an­a­lyst Teddy At­las and the blovi­at­ing Stephen A. Smith, you would have thought this was the rob­bery of the cen­tury, when it was any­thing but.

It’s also not a stain on box­ing in any fash­ion.

Fights are sub­jec­tive, judges see dif­fer­ent things and the fact is that Pac­quiao sim­ply couldn’t reach down and find enough to take the de­ci­sion out of their hands.

The peo­ple at ESPN who signed a deal with pro­moter Bob Arum for a series of Satur­day night fights weren’t crying foul af­ter­wards.

They had to be ec­static with an en­ter­tain­ing fight card that ended with enough con­tro­versy to let Smith bab­ble on end­lessly even at the end of a four- hour prime time marathon.

As for At­las, well, he’s an ac­quired taste for the ca­sual fan.

It’s one thing to play the role of out­raged ring­side ex­pert, but At­las is so in love with his own voice that even when he was talk­ing to the fighters af­ter­wards he was giv­ing long state­ments in­stead of ask­ing per­ti­nent ques­tions.

Still, un­like the Au­gust 26 cha­rade with May­weather and Conor McGre­gor, this was a real fight.

Both fighters were blood­ied and bat­tered, yet both re­fused to give an inch even as the rounds went on and the blood kept flow­ing.

Mute the tele­vi­sion and it looked like a very close fight.

I had Pac­quiao win­ning 115- 113, but judges can be in­flu­enced by the crowd’s fren­zied back­ing of Horn just as tele­vi­sion view­ers can be in­flu­enced by an­a­lysts who in­sist that the way they see the fight is the only way it could pos­si­bly be seen.

The fact is, Pac­quiao is an age­ing fighter who has been in too many ring wars. Time catches up with all fighters, and it looked for long stretches in Sun­day’s fight like it fi­nally caught up with him.

Give Horn credit for beat­ing a leg­end, faded as Pac­quiao might be.

Give both credit for fight­ing through head clashes and blood to fight to the fi­nal bell. And en­joy the re­match, be­cause there will surely be one.

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